Deciding to start a business is an unusual decision. It’s often considered irrational and yet for many it’s the best decision they’ve ever made. So we asked folks to think back to when they were starting their businesses and to tell us about their decision making process.

Karen Berrios | Cancer Thriver

Starting my business was a nudge from God. I had already had my blog for a couple of years, and I was feeling so much purpose from connecting with people who are on their own cancer journeys. One of the biggest things I am an advocate for is using food as medicine. Food has played a big role in my holistic healing approach. I understood that everything I ate could either help heal or harm my body. I am from Peru, and if you know Peru, they have some of the most potent and effective superfoods on the planet. During my cancer healing journey, I included all of these foods as regular staples in the things that I ate. I thought to myself, I should make these superfoods more widely available for people. I should empower others on how incredible these can be for the body. Read more>>

Bella Baskin | CEO & Founder

My idea for Bless It Bag seemed to be something that could fill a void or a need for human connection. Now that moment where a human being is standing at your car door asking for help is no longer an awkward moment, instead it can be an opportunity to be your best self. A self that cares about other people and does your part to be of service. The best moment of my day is when I am not thinking about myself. Read more>>

Alex Maizuss | Certified MBSR Teacher & mPEAK Coach

I really wanted to create a space where people could come exactly as they are, knowing that they are accepted and cared for and it was my training with trauma that allowed me to see the possibility of such a space. I often found myself teaching mindfulness without being able to follow up on class participants and healing three gives me the opportunity to provide more resources and be there for them long after class ends. Read more>>

Andrea Ward | Filmmaker, Writer, Celebrity Stylist & Actress

That I wanted to created generational wealth for my family and to be a successful business as well as a household name. Read more>>

Jennie Stierwalt | Founder & Designer

Growing up, all I wanted to do was help women feel beautiful… to draw attention to the aspects of themselves that were their signature characteristics. My thought process was much more about a heart process – believing that I had the eye, the drive, and the teachability to learn how to make products that women would love to wear and that would transform the way they saw themselves in the mirror. It’s my highest pleasure to see a woman feel a jump in her step and a spark in her eye when she puts on something I’ve made!!! So, I went for it, and it’s been such a learning process, but I’m finally beginning to hit a stride with it and I love it more and more every day! Read more>>

Sean Davey | Art Photographer, Specialized in Coastal and Water Photography

I’ve always had a deep connection with the ocean. I seized the opportunity to be there every time, I could as a youngster. I’ve lived by the sea since a young age and spent a lot of time photographing it over the years. I used to work in high-end commercial color labs back in the day to supplement my bills and such, but what ultimately drove me to go out on my own was being stuck in traffic for 15 hours every week, going to and from work. I figured if I went out on my own, that’s an extra 15 hours a week that I have to be productive. That was around 1990 and I’ve been self-employed ever since. Read more>>

Alexandrea Leigh | Event & Portrait Photographer

My mom has been a hairdresser, a CNA, a children’s music instructor, and is now a realtor. She has always thought with an advance towards the future and enabled herself to be free of scheduling restrictions and financial vendettas. Because of this background, the thought-process behind starting my own business began at a young age. The idea of being totally free to create my own schedule, be my own boss, and make my own money has been an attractive idea since I was around 10 and walking around the neighborhood with my dog walking cards. Though that was a short-lived business, it’s definitely fun to reflect on and see how far I’ve come. The motivation and passion has been there from the start; despite the differing business ideas I’ve had. When work is not something you dread, you’ve found your calling. Read more>>

Saul Jauregui | Personal Chef

Wanted to start something different and from what I’ve seen in the markets around me at the time. What could I bring using my experience and still honoring my mother’s food. Read more>>

Rajib Karmakar | Performer, Composer & Educator

It never amazes me how much time people waste searching endlessly for magic shortcuts to entrepreneurial success and fulfillment when the only real path is starting them right in the face. Yes, it’s hard and takes lots of courage but you got to start somewhere. For me it’s after completing my degree from California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) I figured out that I need to share not only my accumulated knowledge that I have learnt from these past years but also life, experiences and culture along with it and give it back to the people and build a community where people from different backgrounds and culture come together and share a common space. This was the main vision to establish” Los Angeles International Music and Arts Academy” also popularly known as LAIMA Academy. Read more>>

Sabina Gault | CEO

I never thought of myself as a business owner. I was raised in a totally different culture (and country) and the idea of entrepreneurship was entirely missing from my upbringing. However, I am quite a terrible employee – and found myself without a job- but with clients that wanted to work with me. So before I knew it – I had a business (and no clue what to do). Read more>>

Tyra Bouhamdan Vassallo | Founder

Freedom. I started my own business because I wanted the freedom to work from anywhere in the world, on my own terms, and with purpose. I always wanted to run my own organization and have a positive impact on the word. My communication agency, which stemmed from having freelanced as a translator and communication consultant on one hand, and as a sales and marketing agent on the other, just organically happened. It seemed that I would always say yes to communication opportunities where I felt the messages had a positive influence on people, culture and planet, and where I could make connections to somehow bring the world together. Starting out primarily working with community and not-for-profit organizations, then into the corporate media domain, I quickly realized that communication was the long-term path for me. Read more>>

Fredericke Grillitz | Owner & Creator

I was working as a makeup artist in the fashion industry for about 20 years on many super models, actresses and celebrities. I came in touch with many great artistic and fashion forward thinking people who gave me a platform to paly and grow. But from the very beginning of my carriere my work had a very specific style/signature/touch which was loved by many models, photographers etc. My specialty was to create a very sheer and radiant complexion, which became the basis for whatever makeup i followed applying on eyes, lips etc. Because of that approach the look was very youthful, sexy and contemporary. After many years of traveling all over the world, being constantly on location/shoots/studios, also realizing that there was no product for women for every day life, a “street style” look did not exist, It was heavy caky makeup and powder or nothing. Read more>>

Chelsea Mee | Owner

The thought process behind my business actually happened pretty quickly and pretty randomly. One day, the idea of starting a Self Tape company in LA just came to me. I’ve been doing my own self tapes out of Tigheland Production’s studio space for so long, and the quality was continuing to get better and better the more I put new ideas into them, suddenly I thought, “Wait a moment, I could do this as a business…” and 5 minutes later, I started building the website. Read more>>

Arnau Bosch | Co-Founder & CEO

My thought process behind starting my own business is based on failure. I had to go and try to fail and see if I could succeed.I’ve been working on advertising and marketing for over 15 years. But my true passion has always been Music since I got my first guitar at the age of 7. Since then, I’ve been using Music to connect with people. And by doing so, my obsession with learning the creative process and how artists communicate with their audiences started. What type of platforms are there to connect artists with fans? What limitations are artists facing when it comes to the creative process? I couldn’t stop thinking about new ways of engagement between artists as well as fans.  While I was working for Apple, I realized that even top artists with big brands’ support share similar struggles and limitations like myself. Read more>>

Abby Woods | Chief Creative Officer

When we started Quartermain Media we definitely didn’t have a publishing division in mind. The launch of our Cue The Culture magazine has been one of our greatest joys. Available in print and as an interactive E-Book, we are amplifying the voices of Black social media influencers and Black social media conversations with a bi-annual publication. The first issue was released in July 2020. We titled it, “Genesis”. It was originally supposed to come out in June, but given we had never produced a publication, so we were a bit delayed. Now that a foundation has been made, the next issue, being released on Black Friday in November has more writers, more conversation, and it truly next level. Read more>>

Julia Suh | Founder

For the longest time, I was unsure and indecisive about everything; what I wanted to do in my life, if the decisions I made were the “right” ones. I constantly second guessed myself and compared myself to others until I created what is now The Mantra Co. What started as a simple inspirational Instagram account, that I worked on simultaneously with my unfulfilling 9-5 job, quickly grew into a worldwide community of over a MILLION people who are going through similar mindset blocks and personal struggles.  I found a way to deeply connect with strangers online to not only end up helping them feel better, but also myself whether that be by posting an inspirational quote, writing empowering horoscope readings, to having 1 on 1 private DMs just talking about real life problems we’re going through. Read more>>

Dustin Ross | Entrepreneur & Technologist

I actually started this with a friend as a side project. We were hoping to make a little extra cash on top of our day jobs, this was 2007. It originally coincided with the massive crash of 2008 but luckily we had hit a niche that wasn’t affected too badly by the housing crisis. So, at the same time that my day job had to stop paying me, I was lucky enough that this project started to gain traction and generate some revenue. In hindsight there was a combination of luck and skillful strategic thinking here. We certainly were luckily that our idea worked at a time when things were looking bleak, but good ideas are good ideas. Combining smart strategy with some elbow grease, resolve and hard work will always reap rewards. Read more>>

Divine Dawson | CEO & Designer

I found that I was not happy in corporate America. I was always working a job and making my employers richer, in the meantime I had no real satisfaction.I first started working on my business part time and realized that , that was not enough. Do I got on my knees prayers for guidance then stepped out on faith, We incorporated in 2014 and have been making a name since. Read more>>

Mike Essa | Character & Storyboard Artist

It kind of came to me unintentionally. Back in 2010 after I graduated and my main focus was to join the animation industry, I was offered a gig to help design 20 illustrations for a children’s book. I remember taking the job on thinking “I have no idea what I’m doing I’ve never designed anything and got paid for it, much less a book.” As years went on I found it rather difficult to get my foot in the door at a studio, but also found myself taking on various roles as a freelancer. I thought instead of waiting around for work to come to me, I would keep myself putting my set of skills to the test and make money doing whatever I can, from caricature portraits to full on storyboarding shows. Read more>>

Kristin Jordan | Gym Owner

I think generally everyone here’s “Start my own business” and thinks to themselves “OH that is my dream”. But they never really think about what is really behind starting and owning your own business. There are up and down days. There are good and bad months. There are times when things get tough and do you have the mental toughness to make it through. It’s not all fun and games. I think if you truly want to start your own business you need to be in love with what you want to start. If you don’t love it. It will eat you alive and run your life. You have to have passion, drive, love and the desire to do whatever it takes no matter how hard it gets. If you can do that and stay true to you, you can conquer anything. Read more>>

Jake Mayers | Transformational Coach & Specializing in Lyme Disease

I’ve dedicated 13+ years to overcoming Chronic Illness and feel that everything I’ve done has prepared me to not only show people it’s possible to live a fulfilling life in the face of it but to help them do it themselves. So, I started a business to do just that… People with Chronic Lyme Disease feel they’re living but not alive. They experience immense physical and mental pain, can barely get out of bed / do simple tasks, and feel their suffering keeps them from participating in life. But with my help, they will be able to use this struggle to their advantage. They’ll learn to create happiness, better understand the illness, and cultivate self-confidence while working towards wellness. This benefits every aspect of their life from symptom/treatment management to physical/mental wellbeing, their relationships, and even their goals because they wake up feeling INVIGORATED, SUPPORTED, and CERTAIN they’re moving in the right direction. Read more>>

Michael Berry | Fitness Trainer

I’ve always wanted to own my own gym because I love the industry and wanted to be able to provide my own space that is intimate and safe feeling for my clients. Having it allows me to tailor the experience to each individual. I have the ability to be creative with my own way of doing things and give my clients a consistent and unique training facility. Read more>>

Steffanie Siebrand | Owner

My now husband and I were working for an upstart cable network called The Football Network. It was during the dot com boom and we thought we were going to get rich from the stock we were earning. Sadly, the network never really took off, but along the way we had created a mini editing business within the network to earn money for the company instead of solely relying on investors money. During a transition period withe network, were given the opportunity to work for trade to own the equipment and client base . We had two weekends to convert our garage into a studio, and then voila! We were small business owners. The Football Network didn’t survive, but StormMaker Productions, Inc is about ready to celebrate 20 years in business. Read more>>

Gustavo Lopez | Founder & Owner

I have a flair for entertaining and truly value the importance of creating memories through a party. Like you, I have woken up the day after hosting an event and realized I was too busy cooking, serving, and cleaning, to spend any quality time with my guests. This is where the idea for Event Helpers LA materialized. My passion is creating memorable and stress-free events. Read more>>

Ashley Brabham | Creator & Curator

The idea came to me during a time when I was unemployed, after quitting my corporate job in advertising, for the second time within a year. I had no idea that I was going to start a business, I just wanted to reconnect and tap into things that I enjoyed. MĀKTUB Studio became a way for me to connect the things that brought me the most peace, starting with candles and music. I love candles and I love music, and there’s something about the vibe it creates when they’re both together. I didn’t see anything else like it that existed, so I decided to create it myself and share it with the world. I had no idea what I was doing or getting myself into when I started, however, I was very determined to see everything through. Read more>>

Jeremy Mooney | Videographer & Editor

I don’t think I had an entrepreneurial spirit like many others who do their own thing initially. I think for me, it came out of the realization that no one else is going to look out for your well being as much as yourself. I think everyone at some point, or at every point of their career – have felt either used or undervalued. Personally for me, not relying a company or someone else for my own well being was the best way to get away from that feeling. The idea of ‘job security’ also stalled the process. But in reality, no 9-5 job I’ve ever had really was secure – every company you were in fear of job and budget cuts. So after I accepted that reality, it made it a lot easier to pursue doing my own thing with confidence. Read more>>

Peter Bedard | Author, Speaker & Wellness Coach

I love this question. I started my business because I wanted to share my healing experience. I was slammed into the back of a parked semi truck and I died. I, obviously, came back and the doctors were amazing at putting my bones back together but after that they weren’t much help to me. I shattered my left knee, split my wrist open, lost the nerves in my right hand, cracked five vertebrae, and experienced brain damage. This experience kicked off what I call my “cascade of pain”. I had to learn how to walk again and had chronic pain for years. I developed fibromyalgia, arthritis (was a candidate for knee replacement surgery), sciatica, asthma, bronchitis, multiple hernias, chronic allergies, depression, anxiety, loss of life purpose, and was living in a spiritual crisis for decades. Read more>>

Gary Lee | Digital Entrepreneur & Consultant

The process was a happy accident. I was asked to lead a discussion on social media, but wanted to show how it integrates with other facets of digital marketing. In order to prove my theory, I built a website to put my money where my mouth was and at the end of the day, created a new revenue source for myself. Read more>>

Stacii Floyd | Recording Engineer

Since eighth grade I knew I was going to run my own company. I remember putting a piece of paper that I wrote CEO on my door. Once I found out music was my passion, I dove into the research of business in Music. Read more>>